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trancer

The 80% number doesn't make sense

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trancer

I've heard quoted things like "80% of people have HSV1". Fine.

But that doesn't seem to make sense really.

Firstly, the disease is age-neutral. Babies get it just fine - in fact, they get it maybe the most.

Adults can get it too (My doctor told me he got it at age 50 with a nasty initial oral OB).

Simply.. we are a race that kisses each other like crazy. I don't necessarily mean deep kissing (although that too) - I just mean quick pecks on the cheek and such.

But HSV in general seems highly contagious. I'm confused how 20% of the population, 1 in 5 have never kissed an HSV1 positive person - and thats of course counting when they were infants and their Aunts and Uncles were "kissing the baby" sort of thing.

In other words - I somehow think the 80% number is TOO LOW. Any thoughts?

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RealisticGal

It doesn't mean 20% of the population have never been exposed to HSV1/oral herpes.

We all have different immune systems. Like many other infectious diseases, some folks seem to be "immune," or at least resistant, to HSV.

My mom has oral herpes and so does her sister. We are a very affectionate family.

But...despite plenty of kisses, I do not have HSV.

Explanation? I don't have one.

So, those are my thoughts.

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blinky123

Yes I agree that is all a bit confusing, but I have to agree with RealisticGal, my mum has HSV1 and I have HSV2 and yet I don't have HSV1 and my fiancee of 2 years has been lucky enough not to be contracted with HSV2, all depends on how strong we are I suppose!

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camomile

You can't test "everyone" for HSV1 hence I would think it's a rough guestimate.

In a way, it's quite shocking to realize that such "benign cold sore" can infect, sexually.

I used to have frequent painful gum sores early on in infancy. I notice Mother had some mild sign of coldsore on her lip. I am asymptomatic with hsv1 though I am hsv 1 seropositive. Maybe, it's likely that my childhood infection gave me the immunity whilst I may have contracted hsv 1 via sexual contact later on and have antibody, respectively. (Thank you Mother)

xx

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mortmaiden

What I read was that the percentage of people infected rises with age, both because you have it for life and more people in any age group catch it every year and because when current 50+ year olds were young, oral hsv-1 was more common among their parents and little was known about transmission.

I read that about 25% of current high schoolers are infected with hsv-1 (those would be the babies who catch it just fine from their parents, rising to about 50% of twenty-somethings (from kissing partners and genitally through oral sex etc) and 80-90% of those over 50 (because some people in their 40s and 50s who have never been infected, having dodged the bullet until then, will catch it later in life).

HSV really isn't that contagious. Most people, nowadays, KNOW not to kiss with a cold sore. Even if they don't know it is a herpes outbreak, they probably know that it is catching. When a person with oral hsv-1 doesn't have an outbreak, the risk of infecting someone they kiss or perform oral on is comparatively low. They are likely to be shedding the virus 5% of the time when they don't have outbreaks.

Also, contact doesn't actually equal transmission, which is why men are more likely to have sex with a partner with genital herpes (it is more common in women) and yet LESS likely than a woman to catch it, despite the fact that a woman is less likely to have an infected partner than a man. Female genitals are simply more susceptible to the virus than male ones. In other words, exposure does not necessarily equal infection.

I did not catch hsv-1 as a child. I entered adulthood hsv-1 negative. My first serious boyfriend had oral hsv-1. For seven years, I kissed him with impunity, during the times he did not have a cold sore. And then, 7 years in, I caught it genitally when he gave me oral sex. So 7 years of contact without me actually catching it - not that infectious.

And kissing on the cheek is not really a risk - it is kissing mouth to mouth or oral sex mouth-genitals that is the risk.

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camomile

I did not catch hsv-1 as a child. I entered adulthood hsv-1 negative. My first serious boyfriend had oral hsv-1. For seven years, I kissed him with impunity, during the times he did not have a cold sore. And then, 7 years in, I caught it genitally when he gave me oral sex. So 7 years of contact without me actually catching it - not that infectious.

And kissing on the cheek is not really a risk - it is kissing mouth to mouth or oral sex mouth-genitals that is the risk.

You have raised quite a few important points which are rarely discussed so openly.

This is yet another post which highlights the risk involved in oral sex that the medical communities (hence us, general public) were kept uneducated over such a long time. Lack of enough research data, I guess. Once infection was picked up this way, damage is done.

You are referring to viral shedding (quoted above)? There are loads of herpes related myths that are around even within "doctors" who are supposed to know better. I felt grossly discriminated once I visited a sexual health clinic for once, purely for a check up. I felt I was treated like an "infectious agent" whilst I was in a long-term relationship e.g. marriage. Suppose it's to do with the legal aspect of carrying a DNA virus but yes, we (as carriers) do have a long-term relationship and that doesn't mean someone is getting infected every day.

Thank you for your insightful post.

xx

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ScaryJimmy

This is yet another post which highlights the risk involved in oral sex that the medical communities (hence us, general public) were kept uneducated over such a long time. Lack of enough research data, I guess. Once infection was picked up this way, damage is done.

I had a completely different takeaway. To me, mortmaiden is talking about how HSV is not that infectious. It seems that she had thousands and thousands of exposures before she finally contracted HSV 7 years into the relationship.

Oral sex carries a risk. Unprotected sex carries a risk. Protected sex carries a risk. But, I think we should be clear on the differences in risk between each act.

But, I can certainly agree with your point on segments of the medical community being horribly uninformed about HSV. I can remember getting my first blood test and my GP did not order a type-specific test. She said: "Great news! The test just showed that you have been previously exposed to HSV. Nothing to worry about!"

I think she finally did her homework after I scratched and clawed to get a type-specific test.

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mortmaiden
I had a completely different takeaway. To me, mortmaiden is talking about how HSV is not that infectious. It seems that she had thousands and thousands of exposures before she finally contracted HSV 7 years into the relationship.

You are correct, I was potentially exposed thousands of times before I actually caught it, I don't think it is so infectious.

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